I make it no secret that I am a huge fan of the original 1984 film The Karate Kid. I am not embarrassed to say that it is not only a guilty pleasure movie for me, but truly one of my favorites. It just has so many wonderful qualities to it and, now decades later, a little ’80s nostalgia for me as well. Even esteemed film critic Roger Ebert back in 1984 called the The Karate Kid one of the year’s best, gave it four stars out of four, and described it as an “exciting, sweet-tempered, heart-warming story with one of the most interesting friendships in a long time.”
The film was directed by John G. Avildsen who is probably better know for directing another underdog story, the original Rocky in 1976 which garnered him the Oscar for Best Director. Avildsen passed away back in 2017 at the age of 81, but in 2010 he gave us fans of The Karate Kid a little gift. The director not only saved, but shared some of the original 1983 audition videos for the lead characters as well as the original rehearsal videos recorded before filming began.
First, you can watch below, some of the original audition footage for Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue taking on the characters of Daniel-san, Mr. Miyagi and Ali (with an i). Unfortunately, none were included for William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence or Martin Kove for Sensei Kreese.
For your viewing pleasure, I have included Avildsen’s original rehearsal videos from The Karate Kid edited back together in the same order as the film. There are 13 parts and, if you have seen the movie as many times as I have, it is very cool to compare them to the final film and just see how the rehearsal happened. Even if you do not watch all 13 parts, it is fascinating to watch any of them (even though the recording quality varies as you might expect). If you are a big fan like me, it’s truly a treat…
Thank you so much Mr. Avildsen for sharing this unique perspective on the creative process for one of my all time favorite movies. It is so awesome that this footage was preserved and shared. Yes, I openly admit it, The Karate Kid is one of my all time favorite movies… and yep, it was from the ’80s.